By Clint Thompson
Almost perfect weather conditions for Florida production of tomatoes should have had most growers reaping the rewards by now.
But that’s not the case, due in large part to a multitude of factors, says Michael Schadler, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee and Executive Vice President of the Florida Tomato Exchange.
“The weather throughout the Florida growing regions has been almost perfect through the fall and early winter. This has resulted in a good quality crop with relatively high yields,” Schadler said. “The market, on the other hand, has experienced low prices for much of the season. Substantial volumes from both Mexico and Florida have created some supply surpluses while demand in certain segments of the foodservice sector is still being impacted by COVID. And like everyone else, input and labor costs are up across the board, which makes the operating environment challenging.”
Tomatoes are one of the many commodities that have experienced a surge in imports over the previous two decades. Florida produced 1.6 billion pounds of tomatoes in 2000, 20% higher than Mexico. But now imports from Mexico are five times higher than Florida production.
Mexico imported approximately 3.6 billion pounds in 2019 compared to Florida’s approximate 750 million.